Thursday, August 14, 2003

Garage trove of stolen items


Suspects eyed in up to 50 jobs

By Marie McCain
The Cincinnati Enquirer

UNION TWP. - A joint investigation by the sheriff's departments in Ross and Clermont counties has netted hundreds of thousands of dollars in stolen property, from lawn mowers to rifles and shotguns, and led to the capture of two men believed to be involved in a multi-county theft ring.

Investigators from the two sheriff's agencies on Tuesday evening searched a house on Shepherd Road in Clermont County's Union Township, and recovered hundreds of rifles and shotguns, riding mowers, tools, air compressors, stereos, jewelry, furniture and motorcycles.

"They were stockpiled in a 21/2-car garage. It was just a warehouse full of stolen property," Ross County Sheriff Ron Nichols said Wednesday.

Investigators were led to Clermont County after conducting a search of a home in Chillicothe.

Nichols added that the thefts, which primarily took place in Ross County, go back six months. Investigators expect to find links to as many as 50 incidents.

The thefts included home burglaries and a break-in of a hardware store in which nine firearms were stolen. Those nine weapons, Nichols said, were found among the items inside the Shepherd Road garage.

In police custody are William Broughton, 43, of Chillicothe, and David Sullivan, 47, of Chillicothe. Police are investigating Richard Crocker, 40, of the Shepherd Road address in Union Township.

A fourth suspect, Kevin Trego, 35, of Chillicothe, is still at large.

At least three of the four men face multiple charges, including burglary, breaking and entering, grand theft and receiving stolen property.

Clermont County Sheriff A.J. "Tim" Rodenberg Jr. said Wednesday that the ring could include two other suspects, but those names were not released.

Nichols said so many stolen items were found inside the garage at the Shepherd Road residence that deputies had to get a tractor-trailer to haul all of them away.

"We filled a huge semi-boxcar," Nichols said.

Rodenberg said Union Township police officers assisted with the search, which ended early Wednesday.

Nichols said the suspects allegedly committed the thefts to support drug habits.

The men intended to sell the stolen items, he said, adding: "One of those shotguns, on the black market, could go for as much as $300 to $400," he said.

E-mail mmccain@enquirer.com




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